The Scoop – A deep, dark and mind-blowingly magical adventure
Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a fearless storyteller whose days are spent entertaining crowds in the marketplace with tales of adventure. His nights, however, are spent caring for his sick mother, and wondering about the father he never got to meet.
Then Kubo unwittingly catches the attention of the villainous Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and is plunged into an adventure of his own. Torn away from his home, he must embark on a quest to salvage the lost pieces of his father’s armour – accompanied by his fierce protector Monkey (Charlize Theron), and the dim-witted Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a cursed Samurai warrior.
I love Laika. The animation house responsible for Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012) and Boxtrolls (2014) makes films which are visually stunning, singularly odd, creepy, and often surprisingly moving. Kubo and the Two Strings is no exception.
After the jaw-dropping opening sequence, the animated wonders just never stop coming. The story itself is strange and seems to deliberately defy definition, operating according to a kind of dream-logic which brings to mind the films of Studio Ghibli. In an age of endless blockbuster sequels and reboots, we should be grateful that a film like Kubo exists: this beautiful fable about family, loss and the power of storytelling will captivate adults and children alike.
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? Which bits were your favourites?
- Which parts of the film did you find scary, and why? Was there anything you saw that you have questions about? How did you feel when the story finished?
- What did you think of Kubo? What words might you use to describe him? What makes him a good storyteller?
- What are some of your favourite stories, and why? What do you think are the ingredients of a good story?
If you must blink, do it now. – Kubo
- What does Kubo learn during the film about the meaning of family? What do Monkey and Beetle teach him about being a family?
- Why does the Moon King want to take Kubo’s eye? What kind of life does he want Kubo to have, and why does Kubo want to stay on Earth?
- Why do you think that the villagers’ memories of their lost loved ones are able to defeat the Moon King? What are some of your most important memories of the people you love, and what do they mean to you?
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? If you have seen any other films by Laika, how did Kubo and the Two Strings compare? What other films or stories did it remind you of?
- How did you react to the stop motion animation? What advantages, if any, do you think this painstaking method has over CGI? What were some of your favourite animated moments?
- What kind of world does the story seem to take place in? How much do we learn about this world’s myths and magic, and how much is left mysterious? Did you have any unanswered questions?
- What does the film have to say about the power and importance of storytelling? What role do stories play in our lives, and what kind of stories do you think we need to sustain us?
- How did you feel about the relationship between Kubo, Monkey and Beetle? How do they function as a family? What were some of the film’s most moving and emotional scenes for you?
- How does Kubo and the Two Strings explore loss and grief? Overall, do you think the film was too dark and frightening for children? What might be the value of being direct with children on the subject of death?
- What did you make of the film’s ending? Was the final battle, and the eventual fate of the Moon King, satisfying to you? Why does Kubo decide to stay in such a painful, imperfect world?